Before you close out this tab, before you never read anything written by me again, hear me out.
The Jacksonville Jaguars of 2014 are absolutely nothing like what we think they are. They are not a bottom-feeding team with no talent, they are nowhere close to that. They have the pieces needed to compete for a playoff spot and move towards a bright future.
Entering his second season as the Jaguars head coach, Gus Bradley is a strong motivator and a defensive minded coach. He built up the defense which know as the Legion of Boom out in Seattle and he has 25 years of coaching experience. As linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he coached up Barrett Ruud to the award of NFC defensive player of the month in September of 2007. He know has the job of coaching up an underrated defense with a lot of potential in Jacksonville. He is beginning to craft another Legion of Boom.
The Jaguars bolstered their defensive line this offseason with the additions of Red Bryant and Chris Clemons, both former Seahawks who are familiar with Bradley’s defensive scheme. The Jaguars also signed Ziggy Hood a menacing defender and they return Tyson Aluala.
It doesn’t stop on the defensive line. The Jaguars still have Paul Posluszny at linebacker leading the defense. They also have Telvin Smith, an under the radar rookie out of Florida State who was selected in the fifth round and has showed flashes in the preseason, while competing for a starting job, which he may very well earn.
In the secondary, cornerback Alan Ball was sixth in the NFL in deflected passes last season. It was the best year of his career and he is primed for improvement this season. Safety Winston Guy, another former Seahawk is in his third year and quietly having a nice preseason, while fellow safety Jonathan Cyprien has a chance to take a big step forward from his rookie year.
In addition to their ready to breakout defense, the Jaguars have a face of the franchise in top pick Blake Bortles. Pinned as the second coming of Ben Roethlisberger, Bortles has looked great in the preseason. He has the ability to extend plays and the zip on his ball is phenomenal, hitting 56 MPH. Starting Bortles over Henne would be a tremendous decision, abandoning their disastrous past few years. This year will be a learning process for Bortles, and you never know what can happen.
Bortles will be handing the ball of to Toby Gerhart. Another free agency edition, Gerhart never disappointed in relief of Adrian Peterson for the Vikings. He will be a given a much larger role this season and has the hard-nosed ability to fight for yards. The rest of the Jaguars offense is headlined by youth weapon Denard Robinson, running back Jordan Todman and receivers Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, and Cecil Shorts is only 26. If Justin Blackmon ever gets back on the field this team could be even better.
Inexperience and a weak offensive line could ultimately keep the Jaguars out of the playoffs. However, a motivating coach, a defense primed to breakout and an offense full of young talent, makes an 8-8 season seem pretty realistic and a playoff appearance in the near future even more possible.